TO MARTIN CARTER
Your voice and tongue are wind and wave
Breaking the dykes of Europe’s power;
Your heart’s a Shango drum
Waking the spirit of your ancestor
From the damp shadow of his leafy grave
Deep in the Canje Creek. If he could speak
Lips would spill an epitaph in blood,
Vengeance secrete from his bare bone,
Priming the dung-rich stalks to bloom with fire.
But he is cold and silent as a stone
That the torrential steam has pushed aside.
If you could dream of nightmares in the wood
With dogs nosing those footprints in the swamp;
Of his encounter
With cutlass, whip, his own black brother,
You’d curse your colour and your race forever
On the Groyne where the wet wind groans
The hair of the drowned is washed like weed;
Rafts rock in the waves, foam spits on our dead
Whose seed and runners spread throughout the land.
If only Massacooraman would come
To avenge our murdered fathers
And break these powered liners
Arriving again for sold.
There is a stirring in the leaves;
A movement on the banks of three great rivers.
Birds panic from trees into the sky
Shrieking, shedding feathers.
The drum beats louder, louder
The echo deep inside grows clearer, clearer,
I see a creature rising from the water,
Whose eyes are torches of fire.